Sunday, March 08, 2009


There are four main codes of football played in Australia; Australian Rules (AFL), Rugby Union, Rugby League and Soccer (known to the rest of the world as football).
In the past, these games were played on a distinctly state basis, the southern ones dedicated to "Rules" and the northern ones to the two Rugby's. Soccer has struggled over the years. It has been saddled with ethnic tensions and crowd violence due to the game being mostly played by immigrants and their offspring who have brought their prejudices and "old wars" with them. Naming the teams by their ethnicity did not help the situation either. In the 90's the governing body forced teams to rename according to their location but the teams still have specific ethnic supporter bases and some off field problems still occur.
All codes have now become national with most states having at least one team in their respective competitions .

....................................Photo: Getty Images
I was brought up on Australian Rules football and played it at school and for other outside teams until I was about 16. I also was forced to play Rugby Union at my secondary school.
As the years passed my interest in Australian Football waned as rule changes, team mergers and location transfers occurred with monotonous regularity (eg. South Melbourne became the Sydney Swans), decreasing the game's intensity and my passion for it.
I tried to follow Rugby League for a while but again rule changes "spoilt" the game and player transfers made it hard to maintain team loyalty. Also my team, South Sydney (the Rabbits) was always short on cash and lean on decent players so were mostly on the bottom of the competition ladder and getting 'slaughtered' every weekend.
Rugby Union had strong local competitions in both Sydney and Brisbane and the annual grudge match between New South Wales and Queensland was always a good game. Plus there were international matches when the Australian team, the Wallabies, played New Zealand (the All Blacks), England, France etc.
........................................Photo: Getty Images
So I drifted back to Union.
Most people believe rugby started when William Webb-Ellis picked up a football in 1823 and ran with it, at Rugby School, Rugby, England.
The code of football later known as Rugby Union can be traced to three events: the first set of written laws in 1845; the Blackheath Club's decision to leave the The Football Association in 1863 and; the formation of the Rugby Football Union in 1871.
A new Rugby competition, Super 14, was devised some time ago and consists of 4 teams from Australia, 5 teams each from South Africa and New Zealand.
Following this competition we have the Tri Nation Series between Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. Then there are various so called Test Matches between other Rugby countries from Europe, South America and the Pacific Islands.
And every four years the Rugby World Cup is up for grabs.
As they say....when too much sport is not nearly enough!
The co driver is not sports orientated at all. And having witnessed what they call football in her home country I don't blame her. It's like watching paint dry.
However she began watching Rugby with me on TV a few seasons ago and now has turned into the most rabid fan. And dare I say she is even more enthusiastic than I am!
..............................Photo: Getty Images
We follow the New South Wales "Waratahs" in the Super 14 competition and have bought partial season tickets for their home games this year.
We went to the first game at the Sydney Football Stadium last weekend and watched the Waratahs play the Queensland Reds along with 28,000 other fans.
And we won......just!
Viewing a game live is much different from watching it on TV. You are further from the action and although you can watch replays on the big screen you can get a feeling of detachment. But the atmosphere in the stadium can't be equalled sitting on the living room couch.
I wondered if the co driver would be disappointed.
She wasn't and is looking forward to the upcoming games.

No comments: